The casket of Sen. John McCain arrived in the U.S. Capitol in the rain on Friday morning, and members of congress, the vice president and other influential figures in Washington, D.C., gathered in the Rotunda to pay tribute.
Also in attendance for the ceremony — which started at 10:45 a.m. local time and included speeches by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence — were the senator’s wife Cindy, his children, including daughter Meghan, and his 106-year-old mother Roberta.
The service started with a prayer that praised McCain’s “willingness to speak truth as he understood it, even when it was not politically expedient to do so.”
Next, McConnell recalled that McCain — who was often his political opponent — had “America’s fighting spirit… I will miss a dear friend whose smile reminded us that service is a privilege.”
Paul Ryan reminded attendees that “what stands out about John McCain is what he stood for,” adding, “The rich blessings that only freedom can bestow. The sense of purpose that a battle joined can bring. The common humanity that burns in each of our hearts.”
The vice president closed out the speeches with similar sentiments but also shared a story about McCain’s incomparable work ethic.
Pence recounted a time he had a day packed with travel and meetings alongside the late six-term senator, who was 20 years his senior. Late that evening, Pence said McCain told him, “Mike, we’ve got a few more meetings tonight. Why don’t you turn in? You look like you could use some rest.”
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Pence also shared that “John McCain loved the men and women who served in the uniform and he was a champion of the armed forces throughout his career… Today he lies in the place where he served last, the United States Congress. Soon he will go to rest in the place where he served first.”
McCain died last Saturday after discontinuing treatment for stage-four brain cancer. He was 81.
McCain’s body will lie in the Rotunda for a public viewing according to the late Arizona Republican’s official website.
And on Saturday, a service will be held in the war hero’s honor at Washington National Cathedral. Finally, McCain will be buried in the cemetery at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, after a private memorial service.